Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Sa, 9/4/2021 18:00 - 0:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Su, 9/5/2021 0:00 - 2:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Mo, 9/13/2021 closed, Knabenschiessen

Tu, 12/21/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/22/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/23/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/24/2021 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Sa, 12/25/2021 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Su, 12/26/2021 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Mo, 12/27/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Tu, 12/28/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/29/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/30/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/31/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 1/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Su, 1/2/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Fr, 4/15/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Good Friday

Su, 4/17/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter

Mo, 4/18/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter Monday

Mo, 4/25/2022 closed, Sechseläuten

Su, 5/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Labour Day

Th, 5/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Ascension Day

Su, 6/5/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whitsun

Mo, 6/6/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whit Monday

Show all

Opening times

Museum, boutique and bistro

Tu – We 10:00 - 17:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Fr – Su 10:00 - 17:00

Library

Tu – We, Fr 10:00 - 18:00

Th 10:00 - 19:00

Sa – Mo closed

Special opening times

Sa, 9/4/2021 18:00 - 0:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Su, 9/5/2021 0:00 - 2:00, Zurich's long night of museums

Mo, 9/13/2021 closed, Knabenschiessen

Tu, 12/21/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/22/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/23/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/24/2021 10:00 - 14:00, Christmas Eve

Sa, 12/25/2021 10:00 - 17:00, Christmas

Su, 12/26/2021 10:00 - 17:00, St. Stephen´s Day

Mo, 12/27/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Tu, 12/28/2021 10:00 - 17:00

We, 12/29/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Th, 12/30/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Fr, 12/31/2021 10:00 - 17:00

Sa, 1/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, New Year´s Day

Su, 1/2/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Saint Berchtold

Fr, 4/15/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Good Friday

Su, 4/17/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter

Mo, 4/18/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Easter Monday

Mo, 4/25/2022 closed, Sechseläuten

Su, 5/1/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Labour Day

Th, 5/26/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Ascension Day

Su, 6/5/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whitsun

Mo, 6/6/2022 10:00 - 17:00, Whit Monday

Show all

Women.Rights

National Museum Zurich | 5.3.2021 - 18.7.2021
published on 2.3.2021

From the Enlightenment to the present

Fifty years on from the introduction of women’s suffrage in Switzerland, a special exhibition looks at the struggle for human and civil rights for women, from the Enlightenment to the present day.

Paris, 26 August 1789: France’s National Assembly issues the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This basic charter was influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, and set down for the first time the right to liberty, the right to property, the right to security and the right to resist oppression. The Declaration granted these rights to all people; specifically, however, it meant only free men, even though women had also fought for equal rights during the Revolution.

Around 50 years later, the modern federal Constitution came into force in Switzerland. It established legal equality for all Christian Swiss people, but it excluded women. One of the arguments put forward to support this stance was that only those who did military service had a right to participate in political life. As a result, the fledgling Swiss federal state disadvantaged women legally at all levels: in politics, in everyday life, in education and in the working world. Society still did not perceive ‘woman’ as a self-determining individual. Instead, she was always thought of in relation to a man: she was mother, wife, sister-in-law or daughter.

For a long time Swiss women were shut out of the political decision-making process and disadvantaged under civil law. The long struggle for political equality entered the picture in the last quarter of the 19th century. The road was paved with countless advances, failed ballots and demonstrations. In 1971 – precisely 50 years ago – voting rights for women finally became reality. Ten years later, women and men were given equal status in the Constitution. The Federal Act on Gender Equality, which prohibited any form of discrimination in employment, followed in 1996.

The exhibition at the National Museum Zurich traces the struggle for women’s rights in this country – a struggle that has been tailing off and reigniting for more than 200 years. In addition to significant items on loan from Swiss institutions, the exhibition also presents relevant objects and exhibits from international collections. Audio stations give a voice to scores of women from history, and invite visitors to ‘listen in’ on the debates and discussions of each particular era. Two major installations by the artist Pipilotti Rist form the start and end points of the exhibition, setting it within an artistic and installative framework.

Images

Conscription and voting rights

Men were entitled to vote regardless of whether or not they did military service. By 1874, only around 40 per cent of men fit for service had been called up. The absence of women in the military was frequently used as an argument against women’s suffrage. FHD ambulance driver, 1939–1945.

Swiss National Museum

Protests

Women’s rights activists expressed their disappointment at the result of the referendum by staging protests throughout Switzerland. Women teachers at the Basel High School for Girls went on strike for one day – an act for which they were severely reprimanded by the majority of members of the Basel parliament.

Bettina Eichin (b. 1942), Plaque commemorating the women teachers’ strike, 1999. Gymnasium Leonhard, Basel-Stadt Education Department, Basel

Symbol of the struggle

Ruth Dreifuss and Christiane Brunner wore sun brooches that became symbols of their fight for equality. Women had been in the shadows for long enough, explained Ruth Dreifuss – and they were now stepping into the light. Sun brooches, 1993, sheet metal.

Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

Swiss National Museum

Unconventional dresses

Women helped shape the protest movements of the 1960s. They were free to show off their legs and rejected the sexualization of the miniskirt. In the prevailing hippy culture, short and long skirts made of soft fabrics became increasingly colourful.

(on the left) Dress designed by Sybil Zelker, England, 1967, raw silk. (on the right) Deux-Pièce, Oscar Rom, Zurich, around 1967, perforated fabric with hole pattern. Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

Swiss National Museum

Winged

The winged creatures of writer and artist Erica Pedretti are symbols of liberation. They were created at a time when the women’s movement was experimenting with new means of emancipation. These wings also call to mind the Icarus motif: flying high always incurs the risk of tumbling to earth.

Erica Pedretti (b. 1930), Flügel (Wing), 1980, bamboo, wire, fabric, latex paint. Museum of Fine Arts, Chur. Erica Pedretti (b. 1930), Flügel mit Kopf (Wing with Head), 1979, bamboo, banner, latex paint. Kunstsammlung der Stadt Biel

A view of the exhibition.

Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition

Ever is Over All, 1997, audio video installation by Pipilotti Rist.

Pipilotti Rist. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Luhring Augustine

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63 medien@nationalmuseum.ch

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